Changes to the citizenship residence requirement on 1 July 2010

The general residence requirement is one of the eligibility criteria you must meet to apply for Australian citizenship. The residence requirement is specified in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

It is based on the length of time:

  • you have lawfully lived in Australia
  • you have spent outside Australia
  • you have been a permanent resident.

What is the change?

From 1 July 2010 all citizenship applicants will need to meet this residence requirement at the time they apply for Australian citizenship.

  • You must have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa for 4 years immediately before applying, including 1 year as a permanent resident, and
  • You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 1 year during the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days in the year immediately before applying.

What will happen on 1 July 2010?

On 1 July 2010 the current transitional arrangements will cease. On and after 1 July 2010 there will only be one general residence requirement which everyone aged 16 and over will be required to meet. This residence requirement will apply to all applicants regardless of when they first arrived in Australia.

What are the current residence requirements?

Between 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2010 there has been transitional arrangements in place.

  1. If you became a permanent resident before 1 July 2007, and apply on or before 30 June 2010, the residence requirement is:
    • You must have been living in Australia for 2 years as a permanent resident in the 5 years immediately before applying, including 1 year in the 2 years immediately before applying.
  2. If you became a permanent resident on or after 1 July 2007 the residence requirement is:
    • You must have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa for 4 years immediately before applying, including 1 year as a permanent resident, and
    • You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 1 year during the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days in the year immediately before applying.

Will the residence requirement change affect me?

If you are a long term resident the change in the length of time you must be lawfully living in Australia may not affect your eligibility to apply.

The change mainly affects people who are trying to balance the requirement of living in Australia as a permanent resident with allowable absences and overseas travel.

This means you must hold a permanent residence visa valid for entry to Australia or resident return visa for any time spent outside Australia, during the whole 12 months immediately before making an application.

How can I check my residency?

You can use the residence calculator found in the citizenship website to calculate your residence status, or you can call the Citizenship Information Line during business hours.
Telephone: 131 880
See: Residence requirements calculator 

What should I do if I am planning to travel?

Permanent residents must maintain their permanent resident status at all times to remain eligible to apply for citizenship. This means ensuring that you have a current Resident Return Visa at all times when you are outside Australia or a permanent visa that is valid for entry to Australia.

Information on Resident Return Visa is available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's website.
See:
Fact Sheet 95 - Documents Needed to Enter Australia
Form 1085 - Application for a Resident Return visa (RRV) or replacement evidence of an RRV (293KB PDF file)

Last reviewed Thursday 13 February 2014